Yesterday I wrote here about a British pregnant woman with bipolar disorder who was fighting to be allowed an abortion. Huffington Post UK reports that the a British High Court judge has ruled her competent to make that decision.
The 23-weeks-pregnant woman is said to have initially wanted the child. But circa April she began seeking an abortion—a situation her mother says coincides with her going off her medication.
Health authority officials responsible for the woman’s care had asked the judge to rule on whether she had the capacity to make a decision on terminating her pregnancy. Lawyers representing the health authority told the judge that the woman had a ”chronic and severe mental disorder”.
A psychiatrist who testified said he was ”100% certain” that the woman was not well enough choose an abortion, and the woman’s mother and husband agreed. Her mother said she feared her daughter would later regret the decision.
The woman herself, however, claims to have suffered a nervous breakdown that is not an ongoing impairment to her judgement. She said her husband was “completely indifferent” when he found out she was pregnant and her marriage falling apart.
“I have no real support from my husband,” she said. “It would never work. I don’t really see a future in terms of my relationship with (him).”
The medication turned her into a “zombie,” she said, but going off of it helped clarify her situation.
“I have no money. I would not be able to work. I would be starting in a council flat on my own,” she said. “The situation I am in, the idea of me having a baby. I think it is just crazy … I would not regret that I got rid of it.”
That certainly sounds rational enough, no? There are those who will say she could still have the baby and put it up for adoption, which is perhaps true—although with the child’s father in the situation, who knows if that would be possible? And besides: For whatever reasons, that’s not the choice she’s made.
Clearly there’s no way for you or I to really determine the truth here. But the situation smacks of a cinematically perfect setup: Questioning a woman’s mental competence and trying to control her reproductive decisions (in whatever direction) are two of the oldest manipulative husband tricks in the book.
For his part, Justice Holman decided to trust this woman’s decision about her body. Though she’s certainly “mentally unwell,” the question was whether she was “incapable of making a decision,” he said.
“There is no doubt she has the capacity to make a decision. It would be a total affront to the autonomy of this lady to conclude that she lacks capacity to the level required to make this decision.”